Pendant in the shape of a cowrie, Pair-non-Pair cave

Prignac-et-Marcamps (Gironde). Gravettian, around 23000 B.C. Ivory. Inv. 60.1060.33.

This ivory pendant is in the shape of a cowrie, an animal characteristic of tropical climates. Its Gravettian creator copied fossils present in the Aquitainian subsoil. Prehistoric people made personal ornaments, pendants and beads from shells and fossils. The scarcity of fossilised cowries must have made this type of shell very valuable, which inspired the craftsman to make a copy from mammoth ivory. The suspension ring is broken, which may explain why such an object of personal decoration was abandoned in the cave of Pair-non-Pair. 

This is currently the only known European example of the prehistoric reproduction of a fossilised cowrie.

Pendant in the shape of a cowrie, Pair-non-Pair cave. Photo Neble, mairie de Bordeaux